Hamilton wins in Belgium to close in on Schumacher’s record

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates after winning the Belgian GP at the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack in Belgium today. (AP pic)

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS:¬†Lewis Hamilton stretched his lead in the drivers’ world championship and closed to within two wins of Michael Schumacher’s Formula One record of 91 on Sunday with a majestic, if ultimately tense, Belgian Grand Prix victory.

The series leader and six-time champion registered his 89th career win with another flawless drive to take his fourth Belgian triumph, finishing 8.448 seconds clear of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

It was Hamilton’s fifth win in seven races this year and extended his record run of points-scoring races to 40.

Max Verstappen came third for Red Bull, seven seconds further adrift, to claim his sixth podium finish in succession.

Hamilton, who had to nurse his car home on worn tyres, has 157 points in the title race, 47 clear of Verstappen. The ‘black arrows’ lead the constructors’ championship with 264 points, well ahead of Red Bull on 158.

“It wasn’t the easiest of races,” said Hamilton. “I had a lock-up, which produced vibrations, at Turn Five and another one at the last corner and it was a bit of a struggle, but nonetheless I think it was ok in the end.”

At the British Grand Prix at the start of August, Hamilton had clung on to win after one of his tyres disintegrated.

“I was concerned that we’d have a scenario like Silverstone, but the tyre seemed to have quite a bit of rubber left on it at the finish.”

Bottas admitted he could not match his team-mate’s pace.

“The start was a good opportunity, but Lewis played it really well and I just couldn’t catch him. In the same car, with Lewis driving a flawless race, it was really difficult.”

Verstappen said he had a dull afternoon.

“It was pretty boring, not very interesting and not much to do,” he said. “I ran out of tyre at the end so I was just stretching it out and saving the tyres.”

Daniel Ricciardo produced the fastest lap on his final lap as he claimed fourth ahead of his Renault team-mate Esteban Ocon, and Alex Albon, in the second Red Bull.

Lando Norris was seventh in the sole McLaren, his team-mate Carlos Sainz having failed to start due to an exhaust problem.

Pierre Gasly finished eighth for Alpha Tauri ahead of the Racing Points of Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez. On a troubled weekend, last year’s winner Charles Leclerc was 14th, one place behind outgoing Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel.